Master Chef India
has been a huge success and immediately after it's last season, Ashish Golwalkar, Sr. Non-fiction Vice President at Star is all geared up with the new season of Junior Masterchef India Swaad ke Ustaad. Next in line are other reality shows like Nach Baliye 1
and Satyamev Jayate
. Here he talks to TellyBuzz about the same.
Junior MasterChef Swaad ke Ustaad has been received well. How was the response to calls from kids as participants?
There are lots of cookery shows and cookery channels but nobody has made cooking as aspirational as this which we realized when we went for the MasterChef junior auditions and we were pleasantly surprised since we had auditions in only 3 cities – Mumbai, Delhi and Kolkata and around 8000 kids turned up for the same, whereas for MasterChef we had 20 city auditions!
Was the format for MasterChef changed to Junior MasterChef with kids as the participants due to other serials with kids doing well?
No, all these shows with kids came in really late. Even earlier Star Plus
had some kid based shows like Amul Chote Ustad and KBC Junior. Also Junior MasterChef is an Australian format and as the official format owners in the country we have launched Junior Masterchef Swaad ke Ustaad. We were always planning a kids shows for long. The clean lives and pure emotions come out and thus shows with kids generally do well since kids bring in different kind of emotions. They bring the entire family together and Star Plus
is a complete family channel so there could not have been a better show than this.
So this is a brand extension?
Yes. Cooking is a genre which we own and Star Plus
is a pioneer in cooking reality shows. We bought the brand and made it larger than life so as a franchisee it was very important for us to take it ahead. After three successful seasons of MasterChef we wanted to do something new and this year MasterChef really did well and got a tremendous response. So we needed a brand extension and there couldn't have been a better idea than this. As a creator at Star we have to constantly re-invent and currently at this juncture with MasterChef there is lots of scope to re-invent and audience will get to see something new for sure in the next 2-3 seasons too.
How is Junior MasterChef different from the regular one?
The main difference is that earlier it was adults who participated but here the children will be in the age group of 8 to 12 years. Also while the format of the show will remain the same as the original, Junior MasterChef Australia, we have to change the food being cooked and make things acceptable to Indians. The ingredients, recipes and dishes thus are different. The other difference is that in Kitchen ke MasterChef we had professionals who really wanted to make their careers as chefs and all that but these kids from Junior MasterChef may or may not later on take this as a career but at this juncture they just are very innocent and clean.
Since the show deals with kids are there any other changes in the show?
Not many and nothing will be made easier either for the kids in the kitchen. Every week they will have to undergo different culinary tasks which will be judged and they have to be up to the expectations. We have introduced slight changes in the format like team tasks and double eliminations but it will be as difficult. Yes, when it comes to safety we have special managers who have been assigned to take care of the children when they chop or cook. We have been following all the necessary precautions as per the international format and have ensured that all the kitchen equipment is child friendly.
We see Bollywood celebs being a part of most of the reality shows on TV today to promote their films. Will this be incorporated in Junior MasterChef too?
While we at Star believe that whatever we do should be bigger, bolder and better than anybody else however, we also maintain that whatever we show should be fitting organically and conceptually with the show. Of course Bollywood always brings in glamor and glitz to the over-all theme but at the same time we would not like to force feed it thereby killing the very innocence of the show. We want to maintain the simplicity and keep it intact because when you get Bollywood it is as per there point of view which is not always good and correct when kids are concerned. Also it is wrong to think that top celebrities will get big numbers. It is the content that attracts the audience and shows with loyal audience base will anyhow grab attention.
How do you think Junior MasterChef will fare with the rather tough competition with other weekend shows on various channels?
First of all, Junior MasterChef is not a singing or dancing show but it is a unique reality show with kids. We have never had kids cooking on Television and I am sure that the show will do well. With such a strong content, it will definitely stand apart from the others. It is slotted for prime time on the weekend and we are geared up for the fight. As I said earlier, Star as a channel is always ready to take up any challenge. As leaders, if we don't take risks and experiment, then who else will.
What are the future plans for non-fiction programming on Star Plus?
Star as a channel with the tag line 'Rishta Wahi, Soch Nayi'; we are always talking something new, something different, something provocative. It is our constant endeavor to bring freshness in concept. We just finished India's Dancing Superstar which was very different than the other dance reality shows going on and as a leader it becomes even more difficult since we have no one to look up to. We are no. 1 and now to create and re-create success there is a constant urge to bring something new to the audience all the time. And that is the reason that as a team we don't shy away from taking risks. Nobody earlier believed that reality shows in the cooking genre could be such a big phenomenon but it is now a valid genre.
For Chhote Ustad there were 2 seasons and singing as a genre was declining. We realized that all the singing shows were not doing well so as a leader we had to constantly re-invent and experiment. Star as a channel has never stopped from experimenting with stuff in the same zone or in something new but we would always want to do something different and of course at times it works and sometimes it doesn't.
We are already hearing about Nach Baliye…
Nach Baliye comes after Junior MasterChef sometime in the last week of October. This time we are better planned and have the luxury of time so we have decided that let's go with the best. Fortunately we were a big success last season and we got good couples on board but there is always scope to learn more so now since we have time we plan to utilize it to do the best.
So do we see major changes in the pattern?
We will have a different marketing plan and different positioning too but the core essence of the show will never change and we never would want to change it also. The core is that the fact that everybody thinks it is a dance show but according to me it is not just a dance show. Nach Baliye is all about the togetherness of a husband and wife and how two people who even though they are non-dancers come together. This connects with the people especially couples sitting at home. Also, the participating couples want to understand each other so any activity which you do together brings you closer and hence you can understand each other better. The stars who come in are successful but after the show they know each other better and the togetherness comes out and that is what the audience sitting at home relate to.
Last year one of the participants on Nach Baliye, Smita Bansal
said it has been ten years of marriage but my husband never picked me up like this but now that he has done and I feel good. Actors too like other people are busy with their daily routine and they stop giving time to each other and that's the essence that this show brings about and that is something that we don't want to compromise.
Will we see only married couples in Nach Baliye this time? What about couples purposely getting into a relationship for the show?
We generally try and avoid forced couples coming in as participants on Nach Baliye as we too have our sources to find out but then there might have be a one off thing. It's a pioneering show in dance reality and all other shows came in later. There was only Boogie Woogie
when we launched Nach Baliye. Last year also there were some couples who were not married but mostly they were in serious relationships.
will of course come back but I cannot divulge much as there are celebrities involved but the Sesaon 2 will definitely happen. Currently there is no time frame since we have a big star like Aamir Khan
involved. Whatever Aamir does he does it with a passion and a commitment. He is not someone who will do 5 things together but will do just one thing at a time and do it really well. It all depends on when he gets focused time to concentrate on the show. He is a busy big star who has committed dates so his convenience in terms of timings is most important. When he did Satyamev Jayate
earlier Aamir had no releases at that time and he made sure that he will only concentrate on this. That is the level of commitment he has which we will see in the next season too.
Seema Khot Mattoo